A natural consequence of being in the world for a while is that you tend to assume things are this way or that because it seems like they always happen the same way every time you notice them.  Assumptions accumulate.


When you were an infant, you were always amazed that the sun rose and set, that the wind blew things around and that rain fell down from the clouds.  After a while, though, you noticed that these things kept happening and pretty soon you just figured that was the way those things worked.

As you moved out into the world more, all the stuff bigger people shared with you out of their store of assumptions that they called “wisdom” also seemed to explain how things worked in the world.  You absorbed them all.

Some of that stuff helped to keep you safe.  The one about not sticking your hands into a fire because if you do then your hands will get all crispy and they do not feel so good comes to mind.  There’s also the one about not stepping off a high place unless you’ve got a better plan than just flapping your arms.

Often the big people around you also threw in their opinions about how people should behave, how the world should work, and what every right-thinker should do along with the safety tips and hints on how to get on in the world.  Bet you thought all those opinions were for-real truths too.

Over a lifetime, you fill up a whole warehouse of this mish-mash of opinions and rumors and hints and allegations.  Maybe you even called them Truths.


Assumptions are great time-savers.  If you have to think, think, think every time you try to do anything, it’s likely you will end up just standing there vibrating.  Over-analysis causes paralysis.  Nike says “Just Do It,” but you’re still stuck on…”ummm, what do I do?”

It’s a puzzlement, that.  Whole libraries of books have been written by wise guys on this very subject.  Masses of motivational talks and sermons and yammering have been built on sharing how to get your lead bottom moving.

And they work.  (If they didn’t work, nobody would do them.)

The thing is, if enough people believe in an assumption, then that consensus-opinion as well as all the time and effort all of these people put into acting as if the assumption is real does, indeed, work to make it real.

You think you know what’s what.  You have this really cool collection of thoughts and you are working really hard on making them so.  And, lo and behold, you do make them so.  The “fake-it-’til-you-make-it” mode is built on that one.

Mighty fine things have grown out of assumptions.


All this assumption-making does have a couple of down-sides.

For one thing, assumptions can make you blind.  The thing is we humans can really mis-read what the Universe is telling us.

The Flat Earth theory was one mind-construct that was very popular just a few hundred years ago.  One consequence of the thought that intrepid explorers would fall off the edge of the earth if they went too far in one direction was that most people didn’t travel much.  Why would they?

Assumptions can be like that.  They can stop us from doing things.

Here’s a YouTube video, Challenging Assumptions, by Andy Cohen, a motivational speaker who plays with magic to make his points.


(Cohen launched a book in 2016 called CHALLENGE YOUR ASSUMPTIONS, CHANGE YOUR WORLD.  The little publicity blurb star on the cover says the book is introducing the Assumpt!   “A breakthrough to faster, smarter business decisions,” it says here.)

Assumption-induced blindness can lead to other problems as well.

Together with our propensity for building up great mind-constructs that seem to explain everything to our own satisfaction, we humans are also capable of investing great gobs of emotions in all of these mind-constructs we build.  It’s just the way we humans roll.

We dress our assumptions up pretty and then we spread them around among family, friends and other people.   We hold onto and are loyal to our assumptions, through thick and thin, regardless of the empirical, real-world evidence to the contrary.

Assumptions stick in your head.  They’re like squatters who refuse to leave.  It doesn’t help that often we don’t want to let them go.  They’re what makes up our security blanket after all.  Who wants to let go of their boo-boo blanket?

Assumptions make us so sure that we are right that we are even willing to fight and die for our assumptions.  Assumptions are probably a leading cause of arguments and their escalation.

Two people who hold and are stubbornly loyal to two sets of assumptions that don’t mesh just can’t seem to stop trying to get the other one to admit that he or she is the one who is wrong.  Two very different people holding onto their own set of mutually exclusive set of assumptions just are not going to connect well enough to get along together.

The disconnect between them doesn’t resolve itself automatically.  Like every other mind-construct, bridges take time and effort from the people involved to build.

This problem is another puzzlement that has the wise guys scratching their heads and concocting all kinds of other lists of “should” and “can’t” and “don’t.”  Assumptions give birth to more assumptions.  On and on and on.


You can play the assumption-busting game if you like.

Trying to step outside the other-people rules and this-is-so that are dancing in your head can lead to some interesting discoveries.  Many life-coaches and other gurus tell you that it is one of the best ways to get your head outside your box.

Here are starter-questions you might want to ask:  What would happen if you challenged an assumption that you’ve long held?  What if you followed that exploration to its natural end?

Maybe you could start training yourself to tackle the assumptions you’ve always taken for granted by starting small.  Here are a few suggestions for little challenges you might want to try tackling:

  • What happens if I try eating this new fruit that a friend just gave me?
  • What happens if I wear that fire-engine red dress that looks exciting and fun?
  • What happens if I take this road rather than that one I’ve always taken to work?

Challenging little assumptions could lead to your tackling bigger ones after a while, like:

  • What happens if I talk to this exotic-looking person who does not look or think or act like the people I’ve always known?
  • What happens if I learn about this person’s culture and ways of seeing the world?
  • What happens when I taste the food he or she likes, wear the clothes he or she prefers, or speak his or her language?
  • What happens if I decide to explore this place where I’ve never been before?

And then you can try challenging the really big ones:

  • What happens if I make a friend of someone who is nothing like the people with whom I grew up?
  • What happens if I choose not to be a worker in tick-tock world and choose instead to follow my own heart?
  • What happens if I retire first and then start doing my real work after I am sixty-five?

You can take this exercise as far as you like.  You won’t come up with the Ultimate Answer doing it.  What you’ll probably produce is a whole bunch of other questions to explore and maybe you’ll stumble over some way of walking that allows more meaning and mana into your life.

The good part is it’ll be your own meaning and your own mana…and not somebody else’s.

Here’s a poem that grew out of witnessing other people’s struggles with their own assumptions:



The lady with the self-stick “victim” label is looking at me

With puppy-dog eyes, swimming in tears.

She cannot understand why I have not taken up

The “Savior” mantle she’s been trying to force on me.

It looks like she has decided I am yet another oppressor in her life.


My words are ineffective.

(They always are when ears won’t hear them.)

I am determined, though.

I will not use them as battering rams.

What’s the point of that?


I am very much afraid that a sympathetic hug

Will be misconstrued as an alliance.

So here I am, stymied, backed into a corner

And feeling an urge to run.

I swear the lady’s starting to sprout fangs.


Ho, wow….


Braddah-man has lost his center,

A warrior flailing in the middle of

The dark forces coming at him,

Legions swarming in from all sides,

Weapons drawn and hungry.


He is making promises he cannot keep,

Setting goals he will not meet.

Again and again the words float away.

They have no substance and they’re tangled up

In the lies that are taking him down for the third time.


He only knows he is drowning.

He has that 1000-yard, shell-shocked stare,

And he knows…boy, does he know…

That the cavalry won’t make it.

They haven’t even left the fort yet.




Mistah Merchant Man

Keeps looking at the dreams sliding away

On the slippery slope of numbers falling down,

And all he can see are the edges of

His paper castle starting to curl and burn.


Restructuring and renovating a burning castle

Doesn’t seem like much of a plan.

Selling lemonade to the crowd of gathered witnesses 

Watching as the conflagration burns

Probably won’t help much either.


Those positive affirmations of his

All turned into curds and whey.

The Spider’s been and gone.

Little Miss Muffet’s tuffet is overturned in the grass,

And Dorothy’s gone to Oz.


Good grief!


The god-mad prophet, a teacher gone bonkers,

Stomps along, proclaiming the world’s end.

It’s all turned into dominoes that keep on falling down.

His voice, full of fire and brimstone, thunders on and on

But his words go unnoticed by the bustling crowd.


The masses whose attention he seeks are busy.

They’re all just doing their own.

For them the world’s still spinning and their journey’s just begun

The winds are filling sails; the seas are calling loud.

For them the frontiers beckon; for them the sun shines down.


They know, those other people…

A hundred years hence, we probably won’t be Legend.

But the world will still spin, the wheel still turn.

Some of us fall and some of us fly,

And the rest of us scoot along.

by Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  Taste the Rainbow by LadyDragonflyCC ->;<  [CC BY 2.0]



(Click on each of the post titles below and see where it takes you…)


Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you would drop a note or comment below and tell me your thoughts.

19 thoughts on “ASSUMPTION-BUSTING

  1. I like your view on assumptions. Assumptions really do design the life we choose to live. They become agreements and the universe is built by agreements. I believe the best thing we can do is constantly evaluate and question assumptions that we have in our mind. Preconceived notions can lead us away from our universal path. Especially considering the ego does not like change. Keep up the good work. I enjoy seeing my fellow warriors of the light spreading harmony.

    1. Hey Keith: Thank you for the visit and your comments. I like that: being a fellow warrior of the Light is a good thing! Please do come again….

  2. Your article is very insightful and compelling. I am not a person who has ever enjoyed reading or writing poetry but I do understand and appreciate the power of the art. Though I’m not an aficionado of poetry, I did like your poem and the feelings and message it presented.

    I’ve thought on the subject of assumptions quite a bit myself. The way this appears to me is we seem to be designed to understand Truth and how it affects our life experiences, but we seem to be cut off from it. We still function as if we are not cut off and the result is what fills the void, complete with structure and complexity.

    We are creators it would seem. We weave a narrative; a way of thinking about our lives and the world we live in. Most of the time we get lost in our created narrative/world without realizing that it isn’t the world; it isn’t Truth; it’s just something that we have created to help us cope and relate.

    I find that stopping this process is not practical. It is something like stopping breathing; it can’t last long. Instead, I continually question my construct and recreate. I challenge my assumptions. I question my routines. This is a process that I liken to being a sculptor attempting to reproduce a figure in the world. If I am persistent, my created world becomes compatible with the world outside of myself.

    1. Hey Lynne: Thank you for the visit and your comments. I do appreciate them. You SAY you are not a poet. I think you are wrong. There is power in your words and in your thoughts. Thank you. Please do come again!

  3. I do thoroughly enjoy the way our brain forms assumptions and acts upon them. Most of the time assumptions become expectations and the universe responds very well to expectations. Many time exactly what I expect comes to fruition. Other times my assumptions sabotage me. Sometimes it is safe to assume, sometimes it is not. Your article has made me take a deeper look at my own assumptions.

    Thank you

    1. Hey Keith: Welcome back! That’s a truth about assumptions/expectations…. Just another instance of that whole “paying-it-forward” thing, I suppose. What you put out do come back. Boy! They make you dizzy!

      Thanks for the visit. Please do come again!

  4. I really enjoyed your article.
    Although I know “assumption” is not merely a truth, I so often act upon it. In my opinion, it is because we don’t have a capacity to see the whole picture. Because of the limited resources, we do our best to understand the situation or people’s actions based on our previous experience, personal opinion.

    As you said, it helps us make a decision quickly, but also leads up to the wrong decision. And sometimes the assumption becomes the “firm belief” without us noticing it. So it is good to stop and think if it is true, or a simple assumption. Hence, something like questions suggested here can be helpful! (And I like those questions!)

    Thank you so much for the beautiful poem that perfectly fits in this subject.

    1. Hey Kyoko:

      Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I do appreciate it!  I’m glad you found the post useful.

      Please do come again!

  5. What a thought provoking article.  I had never thought of the assumptions I currently have as perhaps being within me as a result of the way I was raised.  And as you state in your article “assumptions lead to arguments”.  I will say that I have experienced that very fact.  The argument becomes more heated as I hold on to my own assumption as opposed to entertaining the ideas posed by someone else.  I guess that comes from the “assumption induced blindness” you spoke of.  

    I for one will try to be aware of this while I am at work and be more open to what others have to say.  Are there additional resources available regarding this topic besides that mentioned with Andy Cohen?



    1. Hey Mike:

      Thanks for the visit and for sharing your story.  It is a big one to notice that:  how the ideas you hold can make you inflexible and lead to a lot of heat and misunderstandings.

      Assumption-busting is a skill that many people besides Andy Cohen have tried to address. 

      My own favorites include:  MINDSHIFT:  Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential, by Barbara Oakley, PhD; SWITCH:  How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath; WHEN YOU’RE FALLING, DIVE:  Acceptance, Freedom and Possibility by Cheri Huber; and JOYFUL:  The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness by Ingrid Fetell Lee.

      (Click on the titles and you’ll find a link to Goodreads for each of these books.  They may be available from your library as well.)

      Please do come again….

  6. Hi Netta, “Assumptions”, I know we all make too many of them.  I’ve never thought about assumptions as you have explained it in your post.  I do believe that each individual has their own set of assumptions.  Most of us believe in our assumptions and are unwilling to change or let go of them.  

    Assumptions also render us un-flexible, don’t allow us the ability to adapt or to conform to different challenges or environments.  Man, this thought process could go on all day.

    Very nice post,


    1. Hee!  Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts, Calvin.  THAT’S what I like to see — thought processes that go on all day!

      Please do come again….

      1. Calvin Harris says:

        You’re welcome

  7. Greetings Netta!
    Thank you for this amazing post about Assumption, and its ways to change our vision to situations and objects.
    I totally liked the video you showed us, and I was amazed how actually assumptions do trick us into believing things that aren’t necessarily true. Therefore, assumptions shouldn’t always be taken as the base of our mindset and ideas.
    I really enjoyed your article, can’t wait for more!
    Keep it up! 


    1. Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts, Georgio.  I am pleased you liked the post.

      Please do come again.  

  8. You should never make any assumptions, you should be convinced of everything and then decide with your head and brain. 

    If we over-analyze and over-think about any job, there is nothing.  Also you are right that making a goal without much thought probably won’t come out right. 

    I like the topic you covered and how hard you try.  Just keep it up.

    1. Dragan, thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I’m glad it was interesting for you.

      I don’t think you can actually make sense of this consensus-world if you don’t construct assumptions.

      The problem with trying to keep from making assumptions is that you’d end up spending all of your time just thinking, thinking, thinking and getting confused about how one thing relates to something else and what it all “means”. The dreaded analysis-paralysis sets in.

      Assumptions — precepts and concepts that you’ve thought on and decided are pretty much correct for your situation — help you make appropriate decisions and fashion solutions to the problems you are facing and allow you to get moving, I think. They are just roadmaps or blueprints.

      And, just like roadmaps and blueprints, it really helps if the durned things are kind of accurate. Otherwise you’d end up in Detroit when you were trying to get to San Francisco or you build a yurt when you really wanted a castle….or something like that.

      Please do come again.

  9. Hi Netta

    Thanks for your insightful post about assumptions! 

    Yes, assumptions can be helpful sometimes but they can stop us from being open-minded and welcoming new or strange ideas that are different than our assumptions. 

    I think, being more curious and less judgmental will be helpful for us not to heavily stick to our assumptions.

    Thanks again,


    1. Grace, thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I do appreciate it.

      Please do come again.

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